The horses of Coworth Park
June 13, 2022
Exploring Berkshire’s rolling hills
The hotel’s Equestrian Centre is home to a range of horses available for guests to explore Coworth Park’s beautiful estate. As Gemma Porter-Rawlings, the Manager at Coworth Park’s Equestrian Centre, points out: “The estate is so beautiful all year round, the wildlife is amazing and it doesn’t matter which level of experience you happen to be at because we have a variety of horses for all standards.”
A grand passion
Gemma has been working at the Equestrian Centre for three years, her love affair with all things equestrian began at the age of seven, after begging her parents to allow her to join her local riding school in Tunbridge Wells. “I love the emotional wellbeing aspect of working with horses and managing the Equestrian Centre; the challenge and the physicality of it, plus you meet so many interesting people,” Gemma explains.
From amateurs to professionals
For families that are complete beginners, Gemma recommends starting out with a one-hour hack around the estate, at an easy walking pace, where qualified instructors will dissolve any nerves by leading the horses and pointing out their favourite spots and wildlife residing in the park. “If you’re feeling confident, we can have a trot, but this hour is really about enjoying yourself, it’s an opportunity to take plenty of photos too,” she points out.
Capturing beautiful moments
The hacking trails stretch outside the park and create magical Insta-worthy moments whatever the season. During spring, colourful wildflower meadows are home to ducklings and fawns. In mid-summer, guests can enjoy the estate’s mature trees, weighed down in their leafy glory, and listen to the sound of mallet against ball from a distant polo match. Autumn is marked by the drifts of jewel-coloured leaves carpeting the estate’s lawns, and winter brings stunning golden sunsets, crisp mornings and guilt-free hot chocolate.
A world of choice
The Equestrian Centre’s four-legged residents include a variety of ponies and larger schoolmasters. There are up to 15 horses and ponies year-round, which expands to about 70 when the polo ponies arrive for the summer season. “We have Irish Sports horses, Welsh ponies, an Argentine Thoroughbred, warmbloods and a Lusitano stallion,” says Gemma, “The latter, Pico, is my personal favourite, although I am biased, as I own him. He can be ridden by more advanced riders on a hack or if they wish to learn a few impressive dressage moves.” Coworth Park has a range of horses, both young and old, for riders of all ages. Enzo is the ultimate schoolmaster and will give anyone a pleasant ride – from nervous beginners on their first ride to advanced riders enjoying a hack, while Zulu, an ex-polo pony, is the most popular among beginners since he is smooth and easy to ride.
A hotel for horses
Hotel guests can also bring their own horses for a ‘horsecation’, as long as they are fully vaccinated. Stabling and feed are provided, and the team at Coworth Park can offer escorted hacks on the grounds and suggest interesting routes to explore. Bespoke tailored lessons are also on offer and there is a qualified Equine Sports Massage Therapist on-site for a true spot of equine pampering.
Discovering an ancient sport
Coworth Park is also home to the Guards Polo Academy, where guests can learn about this ancient sport, first played in ancient Persia. The only hotel in Britain to have its own polo club, Coworth Park hosts annual tournaments, where it’s not uncommon to find a few royal polo players. Guards Polo plays a central role in the British Polo Season and for budding polo players and spectators this offers a great way to get close to the thrill of the game. Various tournaments take place over summer, from the new Prince of Wales Trophy and the Duke of Wellington Trophy to the Duke of Cornwall’s Trophy and the Ladies Championship.
Creating special moments
In between chukkas and horse-riding sessions, guests can catch their breath in Coworth Park’s rustic Barn restaurant. Catch the sunset over the landscape with your steed and a loved one, glass of champagne in hand, or, for something unique, have a wedding on horseback. “We love being part of someone’s special moment and building their memories of a lifetime,” Gemma concludes.
View the latest issue of Collect, our bi-annual magazine featuring a curated mix of culture, art and lifestyle, together with the latest news from Dorchester Collection hotels.